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Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
But not distinctly. I did consent:
And often did beguile her of her tears,
When I did speak of some distressful stroke
That my youth suffer'd. My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs.
She swore, in faith, 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange :
'Twas pitiful; 'twas wond'rous pitiful;
She wish'd she had not heard it; yet she wish'd
That heaven had made her such a man.
And bade me, if I had a friend that lov'd her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story,
And that would woo her. On this hint I spake;
She lov'd me for the dangers I had pass'd;
And I lov'd her that she did pity them.-
This only is the witchcraft which I have us❜d.
IX.-Henry IV's Soliloquy on Sleep.
HOW many thousands of my poorest subjects
Are at this hour asleep!-O gentle sleep!
Nature's soft nurse! how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down,
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Why rather, Sleep, liest thoil in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
And hush'd with buzzing night flies to thy slumber,
Than in the perfum'd chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of costly state,
And lull'd with sounds of sweetest melody?
O thou dull god! Why liest thou with the vile,
In loathsome beds, and leav'st the kingly couch
A watchcase to a common larum bell?
Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast,
Seal up the shipboy's eyes, and rock his brains
In cradle of the rude imperious surge,
And in the visitation of the winds,
Who take the ruffian billows by the tops,
Curling their monstrous heads, and hanging them
With deaf'ning clamours in the slipp'ry shrouds,
That with the hurly, death itself awakes;
Canst thou, O partial sleep! give thy repose
To the wet sea boy in an hour so rude,
And in the calmest and the stillest night,
With all appliances and means to boot,
Deny it to a king?-Then happy, lowly clown!
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
X.-Captain Bobadil's Method of defeating an Army.
I WILL tell you, Sir, by the way of private and under seal, I am a gentleman; and live here obscure, and to myself: But were I known to his Majesty and the Lords, ob
serve me, I would undertake, upon this poor head and life, for the public benefit of the state, not only to spare the entire lives of his subjects in general, but to save the one half, nay, three-fourths of his yearly charge in holding war, and against what enemy soever. And how would I do it, thiuk you? Why thus, Sir.-I would select nineteen more to myself, throughout the land; gentlemen they should be; of good spirit, strong and able constitution. I would choose them by an instinct that I have-And I would teach these nineteen the special rules; as your punto, your reverso, your stoccata, your imbrocata, your passada, your montonto, till they could all play very near, or altogether, as well as myself. This done; say the enemy were forty thousand strong. We twenty would come into the field the tenth of March, or thereabouts, and we would challenge twenty of the enemy; they could not, in their honour refuse us. Well -we would kill them; challenge twenty more-kill them ; twenty more-kill them; twenty more-kill them too. And thus, would we kill, every man, his ten a day-that's ten score: Ten score-that's two hundred; two hundred a day -five days, a thousand: Forty thousand-forty times five -five times forty-two hundred days kill them all up by computation. And this I will venture my poor gentleman like carcase to perform, (provided there be no treason practised upon us) by fair and discreet manhood; that is, civilly-by the sword.
XI.-Soliloquy of Hamlet's Uncle, on the Murder of his Brother.
OH! my offence is rank; it smells to heaven;
It hath the primal, eldest curse, upon it!
A brother's murder!- -Pray I cannot,
Though inclination be as sharp as 'twill-
My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent;
And like a man to double business bound,
I stand in pause where I shall first begin-
And both neglect. What if this cursed hand
Were thicker than itself with brother's blood-
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy,
But to confront the visage of offence?
And what's in prayer, but this twofold force;
To be forestalled ere we come to fall-
Or pardon'd, being down?-Then I'll look up.
My fault is past.-But, Oh! what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder:
That cannot be, since I am still possess'd
Of those effects for which I did the murder-
My crown, my own ambition, and my queen.
May one be pardon'd, and retain th' offence?
In the corrupted currents of this world,
Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice:
And oft 'tis seen, the wicked prize itself
Buys out the laws. But 'tis not so above.
There is no shuffling-there the action lies
In its true nature, and we ourselves compell'd
E'en to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
To give in evidence. What then? What rests!
Try what repentance can. What can it not?
Yet what can it, when one cannot repent?
Oh, wretched state! Oh, bosom black as death!
Oh, limed soul, that, struggling to be free,
Art more engag'd! Help, angels, make assay!
Bow stubborn knees- and heart, with strings of steel,
Be soft as sinews of the new born babe!
All may be well.
XII-Soliloquy of Hamlet on Death.
TO be or not to be that is the question;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The flings and arrows of outrageous fortune-
Or to take arms against a sea of trouble;
And, by opposing, end them? To die-to sleep-
No more?-and, by a sleep, to say we end
The heartach, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die-to sleep-
To sleep-perchance to dream-ay, there's the rub-
For, in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect,
That makes calamity of so long life;
For, who could bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love-the law's delay-
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes-
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To groan and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
(That undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns) puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprizes of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn away,
And lose the name of action.
XIII-Falstaff's Encomium on Sack.
A GOOD sherris-sack hath a twofold operation in it: It ascends me into the brain: dries me there, all the foolish, dull and crudy vapors which environ it: makes it appre hensive, quick, inventive: full of nimble, fiery and delectable shapes; which delivered over to the voice, the tongue, which is the birth, becomes excellent wit. The second property of your excellent sherris, is the warming of the blood; which, before, cold and settled, left the liver white and pale, which is the badge of pusillanimity and cowardice. But the sherris warms it, and makes it course from the inwards to the parts extreme. It illuminateth the face; which, as a beacon, gives warning to all the rest of this little kingdom, man, to arm: and then, the vital commoners, and inland petty spirits, muster me all to their captain, the heart! who, great and puffed up with this retinue, doth any deed of courage-and this valour comes of sherris. So that skill in the weapon is nothing without sack, for that sets it a-work; and learning a mere hoard of gold kept by a devil, till sack commences it, and sets it in act and use. Hereof comes it that Prince Harry is valiant; for the cold blood he did naturally inherit of his Father, he hath, like lean, sterile, and bare land, manured, husbanded and tilled, with drinking good, and good store of fertile sherris. If I had a thousand sons, the first human principle I would teach them, should be to forswear thin potations, and to addict themselves to sack.
XIV.-Prologue to the Tragedy of Cato.
TO wake the soul by tender strokes of art,
To raise the genius and to mend the heart,
To make mankind in conscious virtue bold,
Live o'er each scene, and be what they behold;
For this the tragic muse first trod the stage,
Commanding tears to stream through every age;
Tyrants no more their savage nature kept,
And foes to virtue, wonder'd how they wept.
Our author shuns by vulgar springs to move
The hero's glory or the virgin's love:
In pitying love we but our weakness show,
And wild ambition well deserves its woe.
Here tears shall flow from a more gen'rous cause ;
Such tears as patriots shed for dying laws :
He bids your breast with ancient ardors rise,
And calls forth Roman drops from British eyes:
Virtue confess'd in human shape he draws,
What Plato thought, and godlike Cato was ;
No common object to your sight displays,
But what with pleasure Heav'n itself surveys;
A brave man struggling in the storms of fate,
And greatly falling with a falling state!
While Cato gives his little senate laws,
What bosom beats not in his country's cause?
Who sees him act, but envies every deed?
Who hears him groan, and does not wish to bleed?
E'en when proud Cesar, 'midst triumphal cars,
The spoils of nations and the pomp of wars,
Ignobly vain, and impotently great,
Show'd Rome her Cato's figure drawn in state;
As her dead father's rev'rend image pass'd,
The pomp was darken'd and the day o'ercast,
The triumph ceas'd-tears gush'd from every eye;
The world's great victor pass'd unheeded by;
Her last good man, dejected Rome ador'd,
And honour'd Cesar's less than Cato's sword.
Britons attend. Be worth like this approv'd;
And show you have the virtue to be mov'd.
With honest scorn the first fam'd Cato view'd
Rome learning arts from Greece, whom she subdu'd:
Our scene precariously subsists too long
On French translation, and Italian song.
Dare to have sense yourselves: assert the stage:
Be justly warm'd with your own native rage.
Such plays alone should please a British ear,
As Cato's self had not disdain'd to hear.
XV. Cato's Soliloquy on the Immortality of the Soul.
IT must be so-Plato, thou reasonest well!.
Else, whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?
Or, whence this secret dread and inward horror,
Of falling into nought? Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction?
'Tis the divinity that stirs within us:
'Tis heav'n itself that points out an hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man.
Eternity!-Thou pleasing, dreadful thought!
Through what variety of untry'd being,
Through what new scenes and changes must we pass!
The wide, th' unbounded prospect lies before me:
But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it.
Here will I hold. If there's a power above us,
(And that there is, all nature cries aloud
Through all her works) he must delight in virtue
And that which he delights in must be happy.
But when; or where? This world was made for Cæsar :
I'm weary of conjectures-this must end them.
[Laying his hand on his sword.